To the editor:
In response to Doug Gilchrist divisional director, community planning & real estate, City of Kelowna (letter to the editor: City Building Cycling Connections to UBCO, June 1 Kelowna Capital News.)
Thank you Mr. Gilchrist for taking the time to respond to my letter. (Kelowna Does Not Support Cycling to Work, May 27 Kelowna Capital News.) I will try to articulate simply what seems to me to be a confusing and disingenuous approach to cycling transportation.
The City of Kelowna (represented by the Planning, Transportation and Infrastructure departments) recently presented a challenge to the community—which incidentally was won by students at UBCO in the Faculty of Management. The challenge was as follows: How can the municipality immediately and significantly reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicle trips within the Kelowna area without excessive infrastructure investment? The winners proposed a ride-share system.
I have nothing against this proposal but it neatly avoids the irony at the source: If we want to reduce the number of single-occupancy trips within Kelowna, we should not be expanding the supply of roads. Building Hindle Drive to provide car access from Glenmore Drive to the UBCO campus should be stopped in its tracks immediately if we are really trying to reduce car traffic.
Hindle Drive, which will cover fertile land in a beautiful valley with asphalt (a slow-release oil slick), will make single-occupancy car travel far more convenient. And it won’t be any safer for cyclists who will have go substantially further and share Glenmore Road with cars travelling at high speeds.
This, paired with the expansion of Highway 97 will also cost a great deal of money and the results will directly counter their declared desire to reduce traffic.
How’s that for avoiding excessive infrastructure investment? More roads = more traffic.
And it doesn’t really matter to me if it’s being paid for through provincial taxes or municipal taxes. It’s still public money.
In response to the statement Mr. Gilchrist makes that Highway 97 is under the jurisdiction of the Province, I wonder if he is suggesting that the Province made this plan without consulting with the City of Kelowna. This seems unlikely.
If the City is serious about reducing single occupancy traffic (and this is far from clear to me) there is one very simple solution: Pave the Rails with Trails path to the airport immediately and stop expanding roads.
The claim that Kelowna has 300 km of marked on-street bicycle lanes is simply deceptive. We do have more separated bike lanes than we did in the past, for which I am grateful, but the on-street lanes are actually just the shoulder of the road with a painted image of a bicycle. I attached a picture of what these images look like in April once the heaps of snow have melted. They are treacherous.
Let’s get serious about changing the way we move around this city and stop expanding roads, destroying fertile land with asphalt.
We have been convinced by our elected officials that building roads is ‘Keeping the Economy Moving.’ What this phrase clearly reveals is the idea that there is only one economy—the status quo. There are no other options.
Despite all the documented research telling us that expanding roads to reduce congestion is futile, despite all the successful developments integrating alternative forms of transportation in other cities, we continue to supply more roads and parking lots while expressing the desire to reduce traffic. This is both disingenuous and hypocritical.
I challenge the City of Kelowna to do something surprising, to get international attention the way Germany recently did with their investment in cycling paths. Pave the Rails with Trails to the airport as a first priority and see what other ‘economies’ arise as a consequence.
And please stop boasting about how good it is here for cyclists. The only people saying this are people who don’t cycle.
Neil Cadger, Kelowna